These Harissa Honey Chicken Breasts are the perfect balance of savory and sweet with a bit of spice. The spice level is easy to adapt, and my kids will happily eat this, especially if I serve it with creamy pasta!
The chicken breasts are cut into fillets and then mixed with harissa, honey, and oil. Lemon zest, garlic, thyme, and paprika add extra flavor. You can do this step in advance and freeze your marinating chicken.
Harissa Honey Chicken makes a great midweek meal as it cooks quickly and is so versatile. You can serve it with salad, rice, veggies, potatoes, or a pasta dish.
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These notes are here to help make this recipe a success; they cover some but not all ingredients; for a complete ingredient list, check out the recipe card below.
Chicken: The recipe calls for two skinless, boneless chicken breasts cut horizontally into four fillets (more details below). You can buy chicken fillets or escallops from the store or use chicken tenders.
Harissa Paste: This is originally from Tunisia and is a mixture of hot chile peppers, garlic, olive oil, ground cumin, coriander, and often caraway. The exact recipe varies from brand to brand. You can find it in most larger grocery stores these days.
Lemon: The zest goes into the marinade to add a fresh lemon flavor without any sour taste. Save the lemon to serve with the chicken as wedges.
Honey: This balances the spice of the harissa; I use runny honey.
Thyme: Use fresh or dried thyme. The recipe states fresh, so half the amount if you use dried.
Garlic: The recipe suggests 2 cloves, but as I always say, garlic quantities in recipes are just a guide, measure garlic with your heart!
Paprika: This adds color and flavor. You can use sweet, hot, or smoked paprika, depending on what you have and what you prefer.
How to Fillet a Chicken Breast
- Lay your chicken breast flat on a cutting board.
- Use a large sharp knife to cut sideways through the breast.
- Continue to cut through the chicken breast, keeping the knife flat and parallel to the cutting board.
- Carefully cut through until you have two plump fillets.
We've tested this recipe at least 3 times to ensure it works well for you, have a look at our tips for getting the best dish you can!
- When making the marinade, if you alternate using the measuring spoon to measure the oil and honey, you should find that the oil helps the honey to slide easily off the spoon.
- The chicken can be kept in the marinade for as little as 30 minutes or left for 24 hours. I even added the marinade to a zip-lock bag and popped the chicken in the freezer for later in the week. This makes for an easy meal as you can remove the bag and let the chicken slowly defrost and marinate at the same time.
- When removing the chicken from the marinade, brush off any garlic slices as they burn in the pan.
- There is no need to add oil to the pan for the chicken as it has been marinated in oil.
- When cooking the chicken, it can be tempting to turn up the heat, but this can cause the honey to burn, so use a steady medium-high heat and turn the chicken regularly.
Why You'll Love These Harissa Honey Chicken Breasts
- The sweet and spicy flavor is so delicious and well-balanced.
- It is so quick to prepare and cook.
- It is versatile; you can serve it with lots of different sides.
- It is economical as 2 chicken breasts will serve 4 people.
These are all just suggestions and things that have worked in our test kitchen, but it is your dinner, so adapt it to suit your family. That is the beauty of cooking; we can all create our own delicious meals.
- You can swap the chicken breasts for chicken thighs. They will need 20-25 minutes to cook at medium heat.
- The marinade is delicious; try using it on salmon fillets.
- Add extra spice with some cayenne pepper.
- If you can't find harissa, you can substitute it with a different chili paste (sambal oelek, gochujang, piri piri sauce, or hot sauce)
Sides: Add some crispy potatoes with buttered carrots and corn for a straightforward dinner. Or serve it next to some sweet potato mash and a nice salad. But one of my favorite ways to serve the kids is to make it with a side of spinach and mushroom pasta or creamy pasta.
Wines: This dish's sweet and spicy notes make it interesting to pair wine with. To balance that, pick a crisp German-style Reisling. But if you have gone big on the chili, pick an off-dry Riesling. Avoid anything with too much tannin for red wine, but still look for well-bodied wines like Tempranillo or a Grenache.
For more chicken breast recipes try:
- Chicken and Gravy
- Bacon Mushroom Chicken
- Mexican Chicken Breasts
- Creamy Jalapeño Chicken Breasts
- One Pan Garlic Butter Chicken
- See all 60+ chicken breast recipes
If you make these Harissa Honey Chicken Breasts, please come back and comment. You can also tag me on social media.
Any questions about the recipe? Use the comments section below.
Get the Recipe
Harissa Honey Chicken Breasts
- 2 chicken breasts
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 tablespoons harissa paste
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest
- 2 cloves garlic , thinly sliced
- 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
- 1 teaspoon paprika sweet, hot, or smoked
To prepare the chicken
- Lay the chicken breast flat on a chopping board and pat them dry with kitchen paper.2 chicken breasts
- Keep the knife parallel to the board and cut sideways through the breast. (see post for pictures)
- Use a smooth meat mallet or the heavy base of a frying pan to flatten the plump end of the chicken so it is an even thickness.
- Repeat with the second chicken breast.
Make the marinade.
- Combine the olive oil, harissa, honey, lemon zest, garlic, thyme and paprika in a zip-lock bag or non-reactive container.3 tablespoons olive oil3 tablespoons harissa paste2 tablespoons honey1 tablespoon lemon zest2 cloves garlic2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves1 teaspoon paprika
- Add the chicken fillets and let them marinate for at least 30 minutes and up to 24 hours.
- Place a large heavy-based frying pan (I prefer non-stick for this recipe) over medium heat.
- Remove the chicken fillets from the marinade and brush off any pieces of garlic.
- Place the chicken into the dry frying pan and cook for 3-4 minutes on each side.
- Serve with lemon wedges (optional)
Nutrition is per serving